CELEBRATING VOLUNTEERS - BEN CANNELL, HERTFORD THEATRE

The show must go on- and it does, several times a day…but it wouldn’t without our wonderful team of volunteers.

Since 2010 Hertford Theatre has grown to be one of the region’s most popular arts venues, open 6 to 7 days a week offering a wide and varied programme of live theatre, comedy, dance and film, along with hosting many other professional and community based classes throughout the week. Our volunteers really are at the heart of everything we do, supporting us in numerous ways to deliver our service. The volunteering programme was launched in March 2011 with just 12 volunteers. Over the years, it has grown and our current cohort is 70 strong.

Our team is made up of volunteers from all backgrounds and ages, each bringing their unique set of skills and experiences to the theatre. Most live locally with strong connections to the community. As the public face of the theatre, our volunteers play a vital customer service role ensuring a positive experience for all our patrons. Main duties include taking tickets and guiding people to their seats, answering general customer enquiries as well as selling ice creams and merchandise. Our volunteers are also trained to evacuate the building in an emergency and monitor audiences during all performances. It’s not all glamour; one of the most important tasks is cleaning the auditorium after an event, and I have it on good authority that popcorn quickly becomes the least favourite snack of a volunteer. Some volunteers also work with the marketing team at events around the county where they represent our organisation.

In the run up to Christmas, our team of volunteer Elves gather in the workshop to hand-make our Front of House decorations, which are designed and themed around our pantomime. Many give up hours of their time to get covered in glitter for what has now become a Christmas extravaganza. This would not happen without our volunteers.

Hertford Theatre really couldn’t deliver such a busy and varied programme, week after week without the dedication and support of our volunteers. I write this, thinking about our team of volunteers and what they do, it has occurred to me that what we have created at Hertford Theatre is more than just a volunteer scheme that supports the delivery of the theatres programme. We have created a community, a family in which our volunteers grow in confidence, learn new skills, make friends and find a sense of belonging through being part of a team. Many of our volunteers are retired and have got involved so they can give something back to the community, whilst also maintaining a sense of purpose, mix with younger people and have some fun.

I am immensely proud of our Theatre and the part it plays as a local community arts venue and this success is at large down to the support and work of our volunteers.

Ben Cannell - Front Of House Manager, Hertford Theatre

To find out more about volunteering at Hertford Theatre visit their website: www.hertfordtheatre.com